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The best nutmeg substitute options

The best nutmeg substitute options

Nutmeg is one of the most popular spices out there that can be used in your dishes. 

The reason why nutmeg is sought after is because of its versatility. It is both sweet and savory, which makes it an excellent addition for every kind of recipe. You can use it in lattes, casseroles, soups, and pies, to name a few.

Nutmeg has a slightly nutty taste mixed with a tinge of sweetness. It also has a distinct but mild woodsy taste, which adds a unique flavor to any dish. 

It is aromatic and warm, a common feature of spices, which is why you can easily find a nutmeg substitute to use in its place.

A nutmeg replacement with a similar degree of sweetness and nuttiness should do the trick when you are out of nutmeg. 

Here are some of the best substitutes to consider when you’re running low on the spice.

Here’s a summary table for these substitutions:

SubstituteFlavor ComparisonSuggested Ratio for SubstitutionNotes
MaceSimilar to nutmegSame amount as nutmegExtra teaspoon for stronger flavor
CinnamonWoodsy, aromaticHalf the amount of nutmeg
GingerMore pungent and spicySame amount as nutmeg, or adjust to tastePreferably use ground ginger
Garam MasalaMixture of spicesSame amount as nutmegBest for savory dishes
ClovesPepper-like, sweet, earthyHalf a teaspoon for every teaspoon of nutmeg
AllspiceMix of nutmeg, cinnamonSame quantity as nutmeg
A bowl of nutmeg sits on a wooden table.

Best Nutmeg Substitutes

1. Mace

Mace is the most common spice to use instead of nutmeg without altering the recipe too much. 

It has a similarly subtle flavor, although it is less aromatic. It can also be used in the same proportions as the nutmeg that is called for in your recipe. 

In case the flavor isn’t as distinct as you’d like, you can add an extra teaspoon of mace.

Both nutmeg and mace come from the same plant, called the myristica fragrans tree. And this is why mace is the closest replacement for nutmeg that you’ll find.

  • Most similar to nutmeg. Use in the same proportions as nutmeg in the recipe. If needed, add an extra teaspoon for a more distinct flavor.

2. Cinnamon

The next option if you don’t have mace is cinnamon. Cinnamon is often used as a replacement because of how easily available it is. It’s derived from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum, which is why it has a similar woodsy taste as nutmeg. Because it is quite aromatic and has a very distinct flavor, you only need half the cinnamon amount as the nutmeg that is called for in your recipe. You can buy it as a powder, which ensures that it has a nutmeg-like consistency when added to your dishes.

  • Often used due to its availability and similarity in taste. Use half the amount of cinnamon as nutmeg in the recipe.

3. Ginger

Ginger is not as sweet as nutmeg. It is much more pungent and spicy. However, it works well to replace nutmeg when used in a savory dish as opposed to sweet. Go for ground ginger and not whole ginger for better results. You can use the same amount of ginger as the nutmeg that was required. Some people prefer halving the amount if they’re using dry ginger—so you can start with half a teaspoon for every one teaspoon of nutmeg and work your way up until you get your preferred taste.

  • More pungent and spicy, not as sweet as nutmeg. Use the same amount as nutmeg, or start with half a teaspoon of ginger for every teaspoon of nutmeg and adjust to taste.

4. Garam Masala

This is a mixture of spices that also includes a touch of nutmeg. Other ingredients in garam masala include cinnamon, mace, and sometimes cumin or bay leaves. 

If your recipe calls for a small amount of nutmeg only, garam masala can be an acceptable alternative because it also brings other flavors into the dish.

Garam Masala is also best for savory dishes because of the numerous spices that it consists of. Use the same amount of garam masala as the nutmeg required in your recipe for the best results.

  • A mixture of spices including nutmeg. Use the same amount of garam masala as the nutmeg required in the recipe. Best for savory dishes.

5. Cloves

Ground cloves are a great replacement for ground nutmeg. Cloves have a similar pepper-like taste with a tinge of sweet and earthy flavors. Cloves work best if you use them instead of nutmeg in sweet and savory dishes, and even drinks. When using cloves, use half a teaspoon for every one teaspoon of nutmeg. It’s important to note that if your recipe already calls for cloves, don’t use them again to replace the nutmeg and opt for a different substitute instead.

  • Similar pepper-like taste with a touch of sweetness. Use half a teaspoon of ground cloves for every one teaspoon of nutmeg.

6. Allspice

Allspice is made from berries from the evergreen tree and has a unique, peppery flavor.If you buy genuine allspice, it is made only from berries. However, some variations of it include a mixture of spices, similar to garam masala. Allspice is a convenient replacement because of its taste. Its flavor is a mixture of spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. You can also use it in both sweet or savory dishes because of its nutmeg-like aroma and distinct flavor. Use the same quantity of allspice as the nutmeg that is called for in your recipe.

  • Has a flavor profile that includes nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Use the same quantity of allspice as the nutmeg called for in the recipe.

The bottom line

Nutmeg is a wonderful spice to add to your dishes because of the combination of flavors and aromas it adds. 

However, if you’re ever out of this spice, one of the substitutes revealed above should have you covered.

Make sure to start with a small amount of the substitute and work your way up to ensure that you get a flavor that is as close to nutmeg as possible.

Nutmeg substitute

Nutmeg substitute

Yield: 1 teaspoon
Prep Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 1 minute

How to make your own substitute for nutmeg. If you are out of nutmeg this is an alternative. 


  • 1 t mace
  • 1 pinch cinnamon


  1. Mix together 1 teaspoon of mace with 1 pinch of cinnamon.
  2. Use in equal proportions to what the recipe calls for as a substitute for nutmeg.

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A pile of nutmeg seeds on a wooden table

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